Category Archives: South Island 2017

Launch of the Books – Free Download!

Wow.. what a week ..

The last 2 of our Bugger it We Are Off series books were launched last week.  All four are now on Amazon as Kindles EBooks.

To celebrate this, I’ve got the Napier Art deco book available for free for the next 4 days from today (US time) – Tomorrow NZ Time

From 1st August (US time), this book will be available for free for 5 days.  …..Click here

I’ve got them available in the Epub format as well for Ipads but haven’t got a Mac which you need to upload to the iTunes store.. I’ll find a way!

These publications are all based on this Blog.
I’m not expecting them to be best sellers but if someone out there finds a couple of things of interest in there, it was worth doing.

The blurb below is copied from the OUR Books page.

As a Photojournalist of some 25 plus years and a Commercial Photographer for another 20, these books are all about the images. We went to some amazing places giving me the opportunity to get some great images.

Bugger it we are off to the Pinnacles in a convoy is about meeting Motorhome friends in Taupo NZ (central North Island) and heading in our three Motorhomes down to the Pinnacles at the bottom of the North Island.

We travel through the Hawkes Bay wine region on the way, go to a UB40 concert, survive a raging storm and enjoy a great meal in an old style Country Lodge. Lots of fun and some great images.

Bugger it we are off to Europe in an Old Hymer is based on our two week trip to the UK to pick up an old Classic Hymer Motorhome and then following our Motorhome friends through the Chunnel and over 5 weeks explore central Europe with bikes.

There were lots of adventures and lots of laughs. A truly memorable experience.

Bugger it we are off to the South Island of NZ is about our three month trip in our own Dethleffs Globe 4 around the beautiful South Island of New Zealand.

We met lots of neat people, caught up with some friends and relatives, stayed in some amazing places and had a great time.

To see more about these books and links to buy, see our Book Page

What was Hot in the South Island

Fiona and I had both taken 6 months off for a trip to Europe and to go around the South Island and we were really looking forward to it..

After getting back from Europe in early August and with our house still rented out, we immediately went to Taupo to pick up Rafe who was being cared for in Gary’s shed by Gary’s neighbour Chris… kind chaps that they are !

Click on the Images for Hi Res

Welding on the feet

We returned to Auckland to get a few things done like drop down steadies on Rafe and a couple of other things and then we were off.

Rafe and Ian and Lynda’s XLI

We left Auckland and first stop was Taupo with Gary and Dianne, who we’d been around Europe with and other Motorhome friends Ian and Lynda. A few nights there, a night in Mangaweka, then to Wellington to catch up with my son Alex who commutes from Auckland, then onto the ferry and the adventure began.

Dianne picking the girls up for a tiki tour around Taupo

The highlights:
Best Park over property (POP) –  Peski’s in Geraldine where we spent nearly two weeks.

Nice parking

Best free Parking – Lowburn on the lake front.. a week of perfect weather helped here 🙂

The View

Best NZMCA park – probably a tie between Tekapo and Ranfurly. Tekapo is stunning amongst the pine trees right on the lake and Ranfurly, dead flat with a dump station next door, rubbish and water and right in the middle of town !

Amongst the pines with Ray and Margaret on the right

Best Long term rate campground – Kaiteriteri right on the beach. Just magnificent.

Close to the water

Best pub that we stayed at – Empire Hotel in Ross. Great roast meals, lovely town and great hosts.

The Empire

Also Omakau Hotel with a fully setup Motorhome park at the back.

Best Museum we saw – Bill Richardsons Truck Museum. Brilliantly done and with a huge collection of all sorts.. even lawnmowers and tools.

Henry Ford and some Bowsers

Best Bike ride – Otago rail trail. Omakau to Ida valley and back. Also Lowburn to Historic Precinct in Cromwell.

The first Viaduct

Best Bridge that we crossed in Rafe – Historic Ophir Bridge. I found myself doing some quick mental arithmetic to make sure it was safe 🙂

Rafe on the Ophir Bridge

Most amazing discovery – Brittens first Motorhome which we found in the Geraldine museum.

From the back. A nice stained glass window on the back. Note the opening wooden windows.

I’ll let the Image Gallery below tell the story of the trip.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow.

We met some wonderful people along the way and had some nice 5pm catchups in some fantastic places.

Fiona on the bike ride on the way back to Lowburn alongside lake Dunstan

The weather was superb. Fiona reckons we only had 1 wet day in the South Island! I reckon it was 3 but the weather really looked after us, if anything it was quite hot with a record breaking 33C in Cromwell on the day we decided to do a bike ride from Lowburn to the Historic Precinct and back !

The Historic Precinct

The difference in Fuel prices between the different parts of NZ was quite noticeable with the highest I saw at $1.48 a litre for diesel around Hanmer and the lowest $1.19 in Cromwell. We filled up in Takanini before we left at $.98 a litre! As Fiona says though Hay Ho.. when in Rome !

Happy Hour at Peski’s

One of the things that really surprised me as we went around was how many people recognised us from this Blog and who made themselves known. It was fantastic to meet you and to hear your feedback. We’re fast approaching 400,000 views which is amazing in less than 2 years!

We’re back in Auckland with our feet up for a bit before we set off again.

A Blast Northwards

After a couple of nice days at Richmond, we decided we would cross the strait early and head back to Auckland. We headed to our favourite Blenheim Motorcamp, Spring Creek  for a night before catching the ferry on a perfect day to cross to Wellington.

Lots of Motorhomes on the deck

It was nice to see the owners Christine and Andy and the campground was looking good. I gave Rafe a good wash to tidy up a bit while Fiona got some washing done as well.

Primo spot next to the creek.

The next morning, we were off early and with perfect weather, the crossing was fantastic. We arrived in the middle of the day so we thought Plimmerton NZMCA park would be good for the night and then we would head to Taupo to stay with friends Gary and Dianne. They had arranged for some other friends Ian and Lynda with their Dethleffs XLI to join us for four nights as well. We were really looking forward to seeing them all again.

A panorama of the Plimmerton when we arrived.

After an early departure from Plimmerton, we left and made good time getting to Waiouru at lunchtime after stopping at the Woolshed café in Sanson for a cuppa and some fuel.  $1.19 a litre at the Sanson Caltex Truck stop for diesel.. amazing.
We had paid up to $1.45 a litre in the South Island.

Mt Ruapehu at Waiouru

We cruised in to Taupo about 3.30pm and as it was nearly 30C – hot!, we were with Gary and Dianne in their pool to cool off.  It was nice to see them both again.

Rafe parked at Gary and Diannes

Ian and Lynda were arriving the following day.

Ian and Lynda’s Dethleff XLI

The next day, Gary took one look at Rafe and while I washed Rafe, he made it clear that he thought, Rafe needed a bit more TLC.

Ian and Gary with all the polishing toys!

Within a few minutes, he was out with his cut and polish kit and got straight into all of Rafe’s blue bits. The bonnet and the doors and the the decals down the side.

Look at that reflection in the bonnet!

A light cut, a polish and buffing and it looked like a different vehicle.

Ian and Gary with Rafe.. look at the Tyres!

When Ian arrived the next day, they were both at it but what a huge difference! Even the wheels got some silicone treatment!

We went down to Repco to get some Turtle Wax so I could wax it when I got back to Auckland (Which I’ve now done).

Thanks guys, you made such a difference and Rafe now looks a picture!

Shiny 🙂

After 4 great days with the crew in Taupo, we headed back to Alex and Sara’s in Ardmore in Auckland (Son and Daughter in law) and the Grandkids Ayden and Liam. It was nice to see them again and with that, the South Island trip came to a close.

Christmas was on the doorstep and we were looking forward to catching up with friends and family. Many we hadn’t seen since we left for Europe over 6 months ago.

Rafe’s track to Auckland

Great parking

We arrived in Richmond pretty knackered and late in the day but as soon as we drove in, I saw Nick and Karen’s tag axle Autotrail Commanche behind where we were about to park.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Nick and Karen’s Commanche

We first met them at a Paeroa Motorhome Friends catchup so it was really nice to see them.

They’re a great couple and have been fulltiming in the Commanche now for nearly 2 years and loving the lifestyle.

After tea they joined us for a cup of coffee and a biscuit in Rafe. As Fiona says, they were the inspiration for us to try fulltiming so it was good to catch up with them and see how they were going.

The Richmond Motorhome park is part of the A&P grounds in Richmond and is extremely good value with powered sites for just $15. There are toilets, several washing machines and recyling and rubbish collection.

The park

We left the next morning for the day to go into Nelson to see Monty’s market in the middle of town.

Fiona at the market

Interesting seeing people out having fun in the sun looking for the bargains.

Cellar Door cafe

After this we went to find somewhere nice for lunch and came across a group of three cafes all on the one site on the way to Motueka, about 2k’s from Richmond.

The La Capilla next door

We initially thought they were owned by the same person but they are separate and competing businesses. We stopped in at the Waimea Cellar Door Cafe which was quite quirky and rustic with its décor. There is another cafe in a Church next door called la Capilla and also a burger bar called Abbey Road.
Interesting places.

The La Capilla cafe

They had a deal on for a cup of coffee and a scone for $7 so we did that and then had a cider and a glass of the Waimea Chardonnay. Very nice it was too and a generous pour as well!

One of the quirky windows

They all look like nice places with plenty of easy Motorhome parking around the back.

Fabulous Falls

As we said our goodbyes to the good folk at Hamner, Roses’s parting words were “ Make sure you stop at Maruia Falls and take your camera!”

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Look at all that water.

So I was under orders. About 20k’s or so after Springs Junction where the West Coast road, The Lewis pass road and the Nelson road meet, there is a small carpark on the side of the road which has tracks down to these amazing falls on the river.

Maruia Falls

These are the falls Rose  was talking about and there is a 5 minute walking track down to the river where you can get the real view from the waters edge. Its an impressive sight and the volume of water that gets through here is just huge.

The falls from above

You can also park overnight in your motorhome in the carpark if you want to.

In the carpark. You can stay overnight here for free.

We spent an hour or so here and its well worth checking this out and its not a big long walk either 🙂

Thunder and Lightning

While we were in Cromwell, we heard the odd crash of thunder in the distance and given that there were 5 days of storms in that region, we seem to miss it all 🙂

Click on an Image to see Hi Res

Rafe with Brian and Rose’s Jayco

After leaving Weedons, were headed into Christchurch to get some more toilet chemicals and then started the trek north to Hanmer.

It is years since we were last at Hanmer and its a great place.

The Hanmer park

We headed into the NZMCA park which I’ve driven past numerous times but this was our first time in it. What a neat spot. We’d only just pulled up and I was levelling up Rafe when I met our next door neighbours Tony and Beryl from Motueka, who were heading south to catch up with family in Arrowtown. They had a nice little Bailey caravan and having lived in a bigger model earlier were seasoned caravanners so it was really interesting chatting to them.

John at happy hour!

We were joined by their caravan by John and his girlfriend from Australia who was a real character. He had been part of the television series Outback Truckers so it was great to catch up with them too.

The pools

The next morning, we took Rafe into Hanmer which is about 7 k’s from the park and had a swim and lunch in the hotpools. While were there, out rolled these huge black clouds and it was all on with the thunder and the lightning. Even in the daylight you could see the lightening.

Happy hour before the rain

We got back to the park quite late and a new van had come in while we were out. Brian and Rose from Motueka. We got talking to them too and it turned out that they lived only a few houses away from Tony and Beryl 🙂 A small world.

And the rain came down!

We all got together between Rafe and Brians Motorhome and enjoyed a cold drink and a laugh or two. The Thunder and lightening hadn’t finished yet but we all had umbrellas which I thought was very stoic !

Dusk at Hanmer NZMCA park

The Hanmer park doesn’t have any water, rubbish or any extras and as I said, its 7ks out of town but given that there is no freedom camping in the area, the options are very limited but its a great wee park all the same and comes it at the same great price as all the other NZMCA parks. 🙂

Rafe’s Track

Murray and Faye’s Fleetwood Bus

We first me Murray and Faye at Weedons several years ago when they visited us in Rafe for a few cold ones late one day and we bumped into them again a year or so later as they arrived at Pauanui and we were leaving so it was really nice to catch up with them again.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Murray and Faye

They are now custodians of the Weedons NZMCA park just out of Christchurch and are really pleased with their new baby, “California”.

It is a 1994 Fleetwood Pace Arrow with a 300HP Cummins Turbo 6 cylinder diesel engine which they got last September. It is 11m long.

Dining area / Galley

I asked him how many litres of Fresh, Grey and Black water they could hold and the numbers had many zeros on them so the simple explanation is they can go for 10 days with big showers each 🙂
Thats impressive !

The Bedroom
The Lounge

Its a lovely bus which they’re slowly adding their own touches to.

The Galley

Murrays parting comment was that he can’t get over how easy and comfortable it is to drive. “Its just like a car!”

From the back